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What Causes a Fungal Nail Infection?
Fungal nail infection is caused by three main classes of organisms: fungi that infect hair, skin, and nails and feed on nail tissue (dermatophytes), yeasts, and non-dermatophyte molds. All three classes cause the very similar early and chronic symptoms or appearances, so the visual appearance of the infection may not reveal which class is responsible for the infection. Dermatophytes (including Epidermophyton, Microsporum, and Trichophyton species) are, by far, the most common causes of fungal nail infection worldwide. Yeasts cause 8% of infections, and non-dermatophyte molds cause 2% of fungal nail infections.
What Are Fungal Nail Infection Risk Factors?
Risk factors for fungal nail infection include family history, advancing age, poor health, trauma, living in a warm climate, participation in fitness activities, immunosuppression (can occur from HIV or certain drugs), bathing in communal showers (such as at a gym), and wearing shoes that cover the toes completely and don't let in any airflow.
Fungal nail infections, especially toenail infections, can be contagious person to person from direct and indirect contact with an infected person or their clothing, such as wearing an infected person's shoes or socks. The incubation period for a fungal nail infection is about three to six days.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/2/2016
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